(1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—The Legislature finds that the state has a compelling interest in ensuring that each veteran who is a resident of the state finds employment that meets his or her professional goals and receives the training or education necessary to meet those goals. The Legislature also finds that connecting dedicated, well-trained veterans with businesses that need a dedicated, well-trained workforce is of paramount importance. The Legislature recognizes that veterans may not currently have the skills to meet the workforce needs of Florida employers and may require assistance in obtaining additional workforce training or in transitioning their skills to meet the demands of the marketplace. It is the intent of the Legislature that the Veterans Employment and Training Services Program coordinate and meet the needs of veterans and the business community to enhance the economy of this state.
(2) CREATION.—The Veterans Employment and Training Services Program is created within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to assist in linking veterans in search of employment with businesses seeking to hire dedicated, well-trained workers. The purpose of the program is to meet the workforce demands of businesses in the state by facilitating access to training and education in high-demand fields for veterans.
(3) ADMINISTRATION.—Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., shall administer the Veterans Employment and Training Services Program and perform all of the following functions:
(a) Conduct marketing and recruiting efforts directed at veterans who reside in or who have an interest in relocating to this state and who are seeking employment. Marketing must include information related to how a veteran’s military experience can be valuable to a business. Such efforts may include attending veteran job fairs and events, hosting events for veterans or the business community, and using digital and social media and direct mail campaigns. The corporation shall also include such marketing as part of its main marketing campaign.
(b) Assist veterans who reside in or relocate to this state and who are seeking employment. The corporation shall offer skills assessments to veterans and assist them in establishing employment goals and applying for and achieving gainful employment.
1. Assessment may include skill match information, skill gap analysis, resume creation, translation of military skills into civilian workforce skills, and translation of military achievements and experience into generally understood civilian workforce skills.
2. Assistance may include providing the veteran with information on current workforce demand by industry or geographic region, creating employment goals, and aiding or teaching general knowledge related to completing applications. The corporation may provide information related to industry certifications approved by the Department of Education under s. 1008.44 as well as information related to earning academic college credit at public postsecondary educational institutions for college-level training and education acquired in the military under s. 1004.096. 3. The corporation shall encourage veterans to register with the state’s job bank system and may refer veterans to local one-stop career centers for further services. The corporation shall provide each veteran with information about state workforce programs and shall consolidate information about all available resources on one website that, if possible, includes a hyperlink to each resource’s website and contact information, if available. If appropriate, a veteran shall be encouraged to participate in the Complete Florida Degree Program established under s. 1006.735.
4. Assessment and assistance may be in person or by electronic means, as determined by the corporation to be most efficient and best meet the needs of veterans.
(c) Assist Florida businesses in recruiting and hiring veterans. The corporation shall provide services to Florida businesses to meet their hiring needs by connecting businesses with suitable veteran applicants for employment. Suitable applicants include veterans who have appropriate job skills or may need additional training to meet the specific needs of a business. The corporation shall also provide information about the state and federal benefits of hiring veterans.
(d) Create a grant program to provide funding to assist veterans in meeting the workforce-skill needs of businesses seeking to hire veterans, establish criteria for approval of requests for funding, and maximize the use of funding for this program. Grant funds may be used only in the absence of available veteran-specific federally funded programs. Grants may fund specialized training specific to a particular business. 1. Grant funds may be allocated to any training provider selected by the business, including a career center, a Florida College System institution, a state university, or an in-house training provider of the business. If grant funds are used to provide a technical certificate, a licensure, or a degree, funds may be allocated only upon a review that includes, but is not limited to, documentation of accreditation and licensure. Instruction funded through the program terminates when participants demonstrate competence at the level specified in the request but may not exceed 48 months. Preference shall be given to target industry businesses, as defined in s. 288.106, and to businesses in the defense supply, cloud virtualization, or commercial aviation manufacturing industries. 2. Costs and expenditures for the grant program must be documented and separated from those incurred by the training provider. Costs and expenditures shall be limited to $8,000 per veteran trainee. Eligible costs and expenditures include:
a. Tuition and fees.
b. Curriculum development.
c. Books and classroom materials.
d. Rental fees for facilities at public colleges and universities, including virtual training labs.
e. Overhead or indirect costs not to exceed 5 percent of the grant amount.
3. Before funds are allocated for a request pursuant to this section, the corporation shall prepare a grant agreement between the business requesting funds, the educational institution or training provider receiving funding through the program, and the corporation. Such agreement must include, but need not be limited to:
a. Identification of the personnel necessary to conduct the instructional program, the qualifications of such personnel, and the respective responsibilities of the parties for paying costs associated with the employment of such personnel.
b. Identification of the match provided by the business, including cash and in-kind contributions, equal to at least 50 percent of the total grant amount.
c. Identification of the estimated duration of the instructional program.
d. Identification of all direct, training-related costs.
e. Identification of special program requirements that are not otherwise addressed in the agreement.
f. Permission to access aggregate information specific to the wages and performance of participants upon the completion of instruction for evaluation purposes. The agreement must specify that any evaluation published subsequent to the instruction may not identify the employer or any individual participant.
4. A business may receive a grant under the Quick-Response Training Program created under s. 288.047 and a grant under this section for the same veteran trainee. If a business receives funds under both programs, one grant agreement may be entered into with CareerSource Florida, Inc., as the grant administrator. (e) Contract with one or more entities to administer an entrepreneur initiative program for veterans in this state which connects business leaders in the state with veterans seeking to become entrepreneurs. 1. The corporation shall award each contract in accordance with the competitive bidding requirements in s. 287.057 to one or more public or private universities that:
a. Demonstrate the ability to implement the program and the commitment of university resources, including financial resources, to such programs.
b. Have a military and veteran resource center.
c. Have a regional small business development center in the Florida Small Business Development Center Network.
d. As determined by the corporation, have been nationally recognized for commitment to the military and veterans.
2. Each contract must include performance metrics, including a focus on employment and business creation. Each university must coordinate with any entrepreneurship center located at the university. The university may also work with an entity offering related programs to refer veterans or to provide services. The entrepreneur initiative program may include activities and assistance such as peer-to-peer learning sessions, mentoring, technical assistance, business roundtables, networking opportunities, support of student organizations, speaker series, or other tools within a virtual environment.
(4) DUTIES OF ENTERPRISE FLORIDA, INC.—Enterprise Florida, Inc., shall provide information about the corporation and its services to prospective, new, expanding, and relocating businesses seeking to conduct business in this state. Enterprise Florida, Inc., shall, to the greatest extent possible, collaborate with the corporation to meet the employment needs, including meeting the job-creation requirements, of any business receiving assistance or services from Enterprise Florida, Inc.
1Note.—Section 18, ch. 2014-1, provides that:
“By August 15, 2014, Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., shall submit a plan to the Legislative Budget Commission, through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, pursuant to s. 216.177, Florida Statutes. The plan shall:
“(1) Provide a strategy and framework for the general operations of Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., including the fulfillment of its purpose, duties, and goals as provided in ss. 295.21 and 295.22, Florida Statutes;
“(2) Include specific performance measures by which Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., and its functions shall be evaluated; and
“(3) Include details of the existing expenditures and obligations of Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., as well as a budget and timelines for expected expenditures related both to general operations and to products, services, and grants to be provided under programs administered by Florida Is For Veterans, Inc.
“Copies of the plan shall also be submitted to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Legislative Budget Commission must approve the plan, including the performance measures, before Florida Is For Veterans, Inc., may expend funds for the duties required under s. 295.22, Florida Statutes.”